Unsportsmanlike Conduct


Serena Williams’s outburst and resulting fine during Sunday’s U.S. Open final has been well documented over the past few days. After hearing Serena candidly tell chair judge Eva Asderaki that she “truly despised” her, it’s time to look back on some of the most memorable unsportsmanlike and frenzied moments in sports.

1. Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield:

Undoubtedly the most shocking moment in modern sports history, Tyson’s bite on Evander Holyfield’s ear in the WBA Heavyweight Cham­pionship bout in June of 1997 will never be for­gotten. All the mild-mannered pigeon racing in the world from his CBS show, Taking on Tyson will never let Iron Mike live this one down.

2. Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan:

The scream heard ‘round the world was easily one of the strangest moments in sports history. In January 1994, U.S. figure skater Tonya Hard­ing had her ex-husband Gillooly and bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt hire a “hitman” to break Hard­ing’s primary competitor, Nancy Kerrigan’s, leg. Figure skating has not seen another “bad-boy” like Harding since Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory.

3. John McEnroe vs. every chair judge:

Whether it was McEnroe at Wimbeldon in ’81, McEnroe at the Swedish Open in ’84, or McEnroe at Roland Garros in ’84, Johnny Mac added a firey side to tennis in nearly every match he played in. Even in his retirement years, it is not uncommon to see McEnroe throw a fit or two during a charity event.

4. Vernon Maxwell vs. heckler:

Latrell Sprewell, Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest may be the bigger names among basket­ball’s bad men, but none of the three could ever out-do Vernon Maxwell’s attack on an opposing fan during an away game in 1995. On February 6, the Rockets guard jumped 12 rows into the stands in Portland to cold-clock a 35-year-old heckler. He was suspended for 10 games and fined $20,000.

5. Serena vs. 2009 U.S. Open line judge:

Serena’s outburst this past Sunday should not come as a total surprise. Just two years earlier in the same stadium, Williams voiced her opinions on a certain call by telling the poor linejudge, “I swear to God, I’ll f****** take this ball and shove it down your f****** throat.” I think a shout­ing match between her and McEnroe would be unbelievable.

6. Roger Clemens vs. Mike Piazza:

On October 22, in game two of the 2000 World Series, the rivalry between Yankees pitch­er and then-future-Hall-of-Famer Roger Clem­ens and Mets catcher and future-Hall-of-Famer Mike Piazza came to a boiling point. In Piazza’s first at bat, instead of going high and inside as he had become accustomed to, Clemens’s fastball shattered Piazza’s bat for a foul ball. As Piazza headed down the baseline to run out the foul ball, Clemens grabbed a shard of his opponent’s broken bat and chucked it in his direction, nearly hitting him. Maybe this outburst had something to do with a certain performance enhancing drug?

7. Patrick Roy vs. Montreal Canadiens:

One of the most controversial moments in hockey history occurred on December 2, 1995 when all-star goalie and Montreal hero Patrick Roy allowed nine goals on 26 shots in a home game against the Detroit Redwings. After coach Mario Tremblay finally pulled him in the mid­dle of the second period, Roy stormed past his teammates and immediately told team president Ronald Corey (who was seated just behind the bench), “It’s my last game in Montreal.” Roy was then traded to the Quebec Nordiques, and the Canadiens – who had won an unprecedented 24 Stanley Cups – have not been to the finals since.

8. Allen Iverson vs. The Philadelphia 76ers:

In arguably the most hilarious sports in­terview ever, Allen Iverson candidly voiced his opinion on being left out of the starting roster for a March 14, 2004 loss to the Detroit Pistons. He was so insulted by not starting that he voiced his opinions to the press. “I don’t know any fran­chise players that come off the bench,” Iverson said. “I don’t know any Olympian that comes off the bench. I don’t know any All-Star that comes off the bench. I don’t know any former MVP that comes off the bench. I don’t know any three-time scoring champion that comes off the bench.” Well said, A-I.

9. Todd Bertuzzi vs. Steve Moore:

On Febuary 16, 2004, Colorado Ava­lanche forward Steve Moore checked Van­couver Canucks star Markus Näslund in the head, causing the NHL’s leading scorer to miss three games with a mild concussion. Though the hit was deemed legal by the league, mem­bers of the Canucks took exception, publicly criticizing the league’s officiating and calling Moore a “head-hunter” and a “piece of s***.” In the next game between the teams, Bertuzzi followed Moore up the ice behind the play trying to goad him into a fight. With Moore’s back turned while trying to ignore him, the 230-pound winger grabbed his jersey from be­hind, swung his fist around Moore’s head and landed on top of him. Moore lay motionless on the ice for 10 minutes before being taken to a lo­cal hospital where he would be treated for three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a grade three concussion, vertebral ligament damage, nerve damage and facial lacerations.

10. Pedro Martinez vs. Don Zimmer:

The rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox has been well-documented throughout the years, but it was Pedro Martinez’s attack on Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer that embodied the intensity of the two teams the most. During a bench-clearing brawl in Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, Martinez found the 72-year-old Zimmer among the scrum and threw him to the ground. Now if only Pedro could throw a baseball these days.

Contact Ben Glassman at [email protected].